It’s been months and many of us are still working at home because of the pandemic. We’ve found workarounds for being outside the office and adjusted to at-home workstations (even if it’s a laptop at the dining room table). We’re meeting deadlines and keeping up with our tasks, but some of us are feeling disconnected from our co-workers. We’re missing morning chats over the coffee pot and smiles as we pass each other in the hallway. So now’s the time to focus on keeping connected with our team.
Here are a few remote communication skill tips from IPS. We’ve had several employees who worked remotely before the pandemic, so we’ve had a little practice at this already and are happy to share our tips for keeping connected.
1. Hold regular team meetings.
Don’t let this slip. Be proactive in reaching out. If you were having team meetings in person, it’s more important than ever to continue these meetings remotely. Depending on how close your team works together, you can even consider having a “daily huddle” to let everyone know what each person is planning to accomplish that day. Keeping connected will help everyone stay focused on priority tasks and make sure the team is meeting deadlines.
Using video calls can help you feel closer together (plus it can be nice to see someone other than your housemates). During these meetings, make time for some social chatting too. Have a virtual show-and-tell with a different person sharing at each meeting. Make time to introduce your pets. Don’t lose your comradery just because you aren’t in the office together.
2. Have 1:1’s between managers and team members.
If you’re a manager, check in with your team individually. Talk to them to see if there is anything you can do to help them be more comfortable while working from home. Make sure they have the tools they need to accomplish their tasks. And just check in! Chat like you would if you were sitting at your desks or passing in the hall. It will do wonders for their morale and yours!
3. Be flexible.
Some people are working from home with kids. A co-worker may have less reliable internet. People may not be comfortable or able to take video calls at certain times. Likewise, some may have to adjust their schedules to work different hours. So work with each other! Don’t get frustrated if you don’t receive an answer immediately or if you have to reschedule a call. Instead, pick the method of communicating that works best for everyone. As long as your team is working, you can make adjustments to help each other out. Just keep talking.
4. Take advantage of screen sharing.
At IPS, we’ve had to train new employees remotely without ever having met in person. This dynamic can be challenging, but using screen sharing as you train can really help. Screen sharing can also help to make sure you are on the same page if you have questions, even for veteran team members.
5. Set up Slack or Teams channels.
With people’s schedules changing, it’s important to have a way to communicate that doesn’t require an immediate response. For talk that doesn’t require a meeting, use email and chat programs instead. One positive for text conversations is being able to use memes and gifs if your company allows them. It’s easier to get a tone across if you can share a silly picture.
It’s also a great idea to have channels for outside of work talk, like sharing an article or pet pictures.
6. Schedule a virtual team happy hour.
Consider having a team happy hour where you can all get together virtually. Use this time to chat about life and stay connected on a personal level.
7. If you have a smaller team and a safe place, meet up socially outside of work.
Depending on your comfort level, vulnerability, and where you are in the world, you may be able to safely visit each other in person. At IPS, we’re lucky to have an office with several wooded acres. So we’ve been able to host a few small outdoor BYOE (bring your own everything) fires for different teams.
Just be sure to plan an outside gathering and keep it small. Stand apart and wear your masks. And don’t forget to bring your hand sanitizer.
In short, communication is vital for any team. Without it, it’s difficult to be successful but it’s also important for people to feel connected. Thankfully, we live in a time where technology can keep us close even when we’re apart.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our earlier post, 5 Inclusive Team Communication Methods.
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